Japan battered by rain, floods

  • This aerial photo shows the flooded area caused by the swollen Chikugo River, not seen in photo, in Kurume city, Fukuoka prefecture, southern Japan Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Pounding rain that already caused deadly floods in southern Japan was moving northeast Wednesday, battering large areas of Japan's main island, swelling more rivers, triggering mudslides and destroying houses and roads. (Kyodo News via AP) ïüînê^å·

  • A man looks at his house and the neighborhood hit by overflowed river after heavy rains in Kuma village, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Floodwaters flowed down streets in southern Japanese towns hit by heavy rains. (Koji Harada/Kyodo News via AP) å¥ìcç_éi

  • A man on a bicycle makes his way through a flooded road following heavy rains in Kurume, Fukuoka prefecture, southern Japan Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Floodwaters flowed down streets in southern Japanese towns hit by heavy rains. (Shoei Miyano/Kyodo News via AP) ã{ñÏ„ƒïΩ

  • Streets are flooded following a heavy rain in Kurume, Fukuoka prefecture, southern Japan Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Floodwaters flowed down streets in southern Japanese towns hit by heavy rains. (Kyodo News via AP) 福馬真吾

  • People walks past an overturned cars and the houses damaged by a flooded river in Kuma village, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Floodwaters flowed down streets in southern Japanese towns hit by heavy rains. (Koji Harada/Kyodo News via AP) å¥ìcç_éi

  • This aerial photo show a damaged bridge lies on the swollen Kusu River after heavy rains in Hita, Oita prefecture, southern Japan Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Pounding rain that already caused deadly floods in southern Japan was moving northeast Wednesday, battering large areas of Japan's main island, swelling more rivers, triggering mudslides and destroying houses and roads. (Junko Ozaki/Kyodo News via AP) Junko Ozaki

  • This aerial photo shows the flooded area near the swollen Chikugo River, not seen in photo, in Kurume city, Fukuoka prefecture, southern Japan Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Pounding rain that already caused deadly floods in southern Japan was moving northeast Wednesday, battering large areas of Japan's main island, swelling more rivers, triggering mudslides and destroying houses and roads. (Kyodo News via AP) 182815+0900

  • A schoolyard of a junior high school is seen flooded following heavy rains in Gero, Gifu prefecture, central Japan Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Floodwaters flowed down streets in southern Japanese towns hit by heavy rains. (Kyodo News via AP) 矢島崇貴

  • People look at swollen Hida river following heavy rain in Gero, Gifu prefecture, central Japan Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Floodwaters flowed down streets in southern Japanese towns hit by heavy rains. (Yuya Shino/Kyodo News via AP) é¬óYñÁ

  • A damaged road is seen following heavy rain in Hita, Oita prefecture, southern Japan Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Floodwaters flowed down streets in southern Japanese towns hit by heavy rains. (Miyuki Saito/Kyodo News via AP) Miyuki Saito

  • A man walks through a flooded road following heavy rain in Omuta, Fukuoka prefecture, southern Japan Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Floodwaters flowed down streets in southern Japanese towns hit by heavy rains. (Juntaro Yokoyama/Kyodo News via AP) Juntaro Yokoyama

  • A man looks at his parents’ house hit by flooding in Kuma village, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan, Wednesday. Kyodo News via AP福原健三郎

  • A vehicle and a tree lie down following a heavy rain in Hita, Oita prefecture, southern Japan Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Floodwaters flowed down streets in southern Japanese towns hit by heavy rains. (Kyodo News via AP) 斎藤美雪

  • Flood waters carrying mud and debris flows through Takayama city, Gifu prefecture, central Japan Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Pounding rain that already caused deadly floods in southern Japan was moving northeast Wednesday, battering large areas of Japan's main island, swelling more rivers, triggering mudslides and destroying houses and roads. (Kyodo News via AP)

Associated Press
Published: 7/8/2020 6:54:29 PM

TOKYO — Pounding rain that already caused deadly floods in southern Japan was moving northeast Wednesday, battering large areas of Japan’s main island, swelling more rivers, triggering mudslides and destroying houses and roads. At least 58 people died in several days of flooding.

Parts of Nagano and Gifu, including areas known for scenic mountain trails and hot springs, were flooded by massive downpours.

Public broadcaster NHK showed a swollen river gouging into its embankment and destroying a highway. In the city of Gero, the rising river was flowing just below a bridge.

Flooding and mudslides blocked parts of a main road connecting Kamikochi and Matsumoto, two major tourist destinations in Nagano, stranding hundreds of residents and visitors, though they were believed to have safely evacuated. In neighboring Gifu, hundreds were isolated in the hot spring towns of Gero and Ontake.

In the scenic mountainous town of Takayama, several houses were hit by a mudslide, but their residents were safely rescued.

As of Wednesday morning, the death toll from the heavy rains which started over the weekend had risen to 58, most of them from hardest-hit Kumamoto prefecture. Four others died in Fukuoka, another prefecture on Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island.

At the peak, as many as 3.6 million people were advised to evacuate, although it wasn’t mandatory and the number who sought shelter was not known. About half of the advisories had been lifted by Wednesday afternoon.

In places where rain has subsided, residents were busy cleaning up their homes and workplaces.

In Gero, a man washed off mud at the entrance of his riverside house despite the evacuation advisory. “I was told to run away and my neighbors all went, but I stayed,” he said. “I didn’t want my house to be washed away in my absence.”

In Oita, teachers at a nursery school were wiping the floor and drying wet furniture. “I hope we can return to normal life as soon as possible,” Principal Yuko Kitaguchi told NHK.

As the rains pounded central Japan, flooding continued to affect the southern region. Search and rescue operations continued in Kumamoto, where 14 people remained missing.

Tens of thousands of army troops, police and other rescue workers mobilized from around the country to assist. Rescue operations have been hampered by the rains, flooding, mudslides and disrupted communications.

In Kagoshima, a pickup truck was hit by a mudslide and fell into the ocean, but the driver was airlifted out with a head injury, according to Fuji Television. In another town in Oita, two brothers in their 80s were extracted alive after a mudslide smashed into their hillside house, NHK said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged residents to use caution. “Disasters may happen even with little rain where ground has loosened from previous rainfall,” he said.

Suga pledged continuing search and rescue efforts, as well as emergency funds for affected areas.

Japan is at high risk of heavy rain in early summer when wet and warm air from the East China Sea flows into a seasonal rain front above the country. In July 2018, more than 200 people, about half of them in Hiroshima, died from heavy rain and flooding in southwestern Japan.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi




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